Road (Lotto Cup; Omloop Het Nieuwsblad; El Salvador; Women’s Tour; 31 teams at Energiewacht; Vuelta a Costa Rica; Women’s team logical step for Sky says Wiggo; Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope 86; Links) — Cyclo Cross (Prize equality at Koppenbergcross; Links) — Track (British women win medals at Track Worlds)
Lotto Cup: GP Le Samyn and Tielt Winge “Omloop van het Hageland
Wednesday the 5th brings us the first big Walloon race of the new season: Le Samyn, the first event of the Lotto Cycling Cup series. Taking place on a hilly circuit, the race totals 111.6km and riders face a number of cobbled sections. Last year a mistake on the part of organisers led to the race being started while some teams were still signing in, which caused a serious crash as the riders left behind fought to catch up; despite this, the event finished in spectacular section when Ellen Van Dijk launched a powerful attack on the cobbles 35km from the finish line and won by an incredible 3’16”. Ellen is back this year, leading her new Boels-Dolmans squad and the number of rivals who’ll be out to prevent her pulling a similar stunt ought to guarantee some first-class action.
Confirmed teams are Bigla, Boels-Dolmans, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, Giant-Shimano, Hitec Products, Lointek, Lotto-Belisol, Orica-AIS, Poitou-Charentes Futursoscope 86, Rabo-Liv, Rytger, Specialized-Lululemon, Tibco, Topsport Vlaanderen, Wiggle-Honda, Autoglas Wetteren, De Sprinters Malderen, Endura Lady Force (with Irish rider Michelle Geoghegan), Keuken’s Redant, Van Van Arckel, Velosport Pasta Montegrappa (with UK riders Lucy Coldwell, Claire Thomas, Julie Erskine, Lydia Boylan, Hayley Simmonds and Anna Railton) and the Scotland and USA National Teams. A full start list can be viewed here.
The official site is here; Neutral Service‘s report with race results is here.
On Sunday the 9th, the Lotto Cup heads into cycling-obsessed West Flanders for the sixth edition of the Tielt Winge “Omloop van het Hageland. Another hilly race, it features five categorised climbs including four ascents of Roeselberg, which tops 10% at the steepest section near the top, as well as several narrow sections which all come together to make the race an ideal backdrop for some classic tough Flemish-style competition.
Maps and profiles are available here; we’ll have a report after the race.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
With no clear favourite as it got underway, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad promised to be a hard-fought race. There was still no obvious favourite going into the last 10km, guaranteeing a nail-biting finish. Numerous crashes took their toll on the peloton during the first half of the race with ever-popular Marijn De Vries of Giant-Shimano being the most notable victim: Marijn Tweeted x-rays of her broken collarbone – repaired with a frightening-looking piece of metalwork – a few hours after her race came to an end.
Christine Majerus, Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Amy Pieters got away on Paterberg, roughly halfway along the parcours and it was noted that Majerus, who is riding for Boels-Dolmans this season, looked exceptionally strong – she might very well have been a contender for a podium finish had her primary objective not been to support team leader Armitstead, a job that required her to exhaust herself at the front of the race while the British rider conserved energy for the final sprint. Majerus’ efforts and achievement will have been noted by team bosses, too; expect to see her as supported rider in the very near future.
Once Majerus had given all she could, the remaining trio worked well together in order to remain ahead of a dangerous 23-strong chase group. That they managed to fend off the formidable Annemiek Van Vleuten (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) and Ashley Moolman-Pasio’s (Hitec Products) as the duo attempted to bridge (an attempt that, in Van Vleuten’s opinion, would likely have been more successful had Moolman-Pasio put in a little more work) is evidence of a job well done, and it was late in the day before the chasers caught up.
Most eyes were on Johansson and Armitstead as the sprint began, and with good reason – both women are powerful and very experienced riders who have proven themselves many times over in sprints with the best riders in the world. Pieters, though younger and with fewer wins on her palmares, has been cycling for most of her life having been introduced to the sport by her father Peter Pieters, who won 19 National Championships and a variety of other races in the 1980s and 1990. She has the knack of being in the right place at the right time that most riders don’t gain until they’re three or four years older than she is, which she used to take a stage win at the Tour of Qatar a few weeks ago, and was far from out of her depth in this race – taking advantage of team mates Kirsten Wild and Maaike Polspoel’s successful efforts to keep the sprinters in check, she launched her sprint at precisely the right moment to take her second prestigious victory of the season.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2014 Top Ten
1 Amy PIETERS (Giant-Shimano) 3h30’15”
2 Emma JOHANSSON (Orica-AIS) ST
3 Elizabeth ARMITSTEAD (Boels-Dolmans) ST
4 Liesbet DE VOCHT (Lotto-Belisol) +06″
5 Kirsten WILD (Giant-Shimano) ST
6 Sofie DE VUYST (Futurumshop.nl-Zannata) ST
7 Tiffany CROMWELL (Specialized-Lululemon) ST
8 Ashleigh MOOLMAN-PASIO (Hitec Products) ST
9 Annemiek VAN VLEUTEN (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) ST
10 Christine MAJERUS (Boels-Dolmans) ST
The world of women’s cycling turns its attention at this time of year to El Salvador, the tiny Central American nation that hosts not one but three UCI races this week: the Grand Prix GSB, the Grand Prix de Oriente and the Vuelta a El Salvador. Neutral Service will publish news and results when available.
Top teams confirmed
14 of the top women’s cycling teams in the world have confirmed their participation in the inaugural Women’s Tour, due to take place in Britain from the 7th to the 11th of May this year.
Rabobank-Liv/Giant (with Marianne Vos, as reported by Neutral Service a fortnight ago), Orica-AIS, Specialized-Lululemon, Boels-Dolmans, Wiggle-Honda, United Healthcare, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Astana BePink, Hitec Products, Estado de Mexico Faren and Lotto-Belisol will be joined by national squads from Great Britain (including Lucy Garner, whose trade team Giant-Shimano will not race) and the Netherlands, while Matrix-Vulpine is the first UK domestic team to receive an invite. RusVelo and Bizkaia-Durango are expected to announce their participation as soon as their visas are confirmed.
Stage 1 details revealed
Meanwhile, Tour organisers SweetSpot have begun to reveal the long-awaited stage details. Stage 1 will begin at Oundle and travel through Grafton Underwood to Boughton House, then progress to Rushton, Desborough, Harrington, Brixworth, Spratton, Chapel Brampton, Althorp House and Rothersthorpe before reaching the finish at Derngate in Northampton. A map of the stage is available here.
31 teams for Energiewacht Tour
Cycling fans usually prefer mountainous races because it’s on the climbs that most of cycling’s most iconic moments take place, but through a combination of great organisation and an understanding of how social media and the Internet can be harnessed to spread news of their event to eager women’s cycling fans around the world, the committee of the Energiewacht Tour have seen to it that their race has become one of the most popular in recent years.
It’s equally popular with the riders, which is why an amazing 31 teams have signed up to compete this year. UCI squads taking part are Ale-Cipollini, Bigla, Boels-Dolmans, Estado de Mexico-Faren, Firefighters Upsala CK, Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, Giant-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol, Parkhotel Valkenburg, Rabo-Liv/Giant, RusVelo, Specialized-Lululemon and Wiggle-Honda, who will be joined by Jan van Arckel, People’s Trust, Ronald MC Donald, Swabo, Velosport Pasta Montegrappa Water Land en Dijken and the new British Starley Primal women’s team. In addition, there will be national teams from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland and the USA.
The race, which takes place between the 3rd and 7th of April this year, has largely stuck to a tried-and-tested parcours over the last couple of seasons but stage maps available on the official website reveal widespread changes for the 2014 edition – changes made necessary at least in part due to the sheer number of riders.
Vuelta Ciclista a Costa Rica
Olga Zabelinskaya (RusVelo) won a sufficient advantage in Stage 2 individual time trial to lead for the remainder or the race and take the overall General Classification.
1 Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RusVelo) 8h52’19”
2 Flavia OLIVEIRA (Brazil NT) +01’32”
3 Alena AMIALIUSIK (Astana-BePink) +02’04”
4 Serika GULUMA ORTIZ (Colombia NT) +02’58”
5 Edith GUILLEN (Costa Rica NT) +03’11”
6 Elena BERLATO (Ale-Cipollini) ST
7 Elena KUCHINSKAYA (RusVelo) +03’28”
8 Shelley OLDS (Ale-Cipollini) +03’56”
9 Doris SCHWEIZER(Astana-BePink) ST
10 Susanna ZORZI (Astana-BePink) +04’09”
“Women’s team logical step for Sky,” says Wiggo
Sir Bradley Wiggins, the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France (unless you count the Tour de France Feminin/Grand Boucle of course, in which Nicole Cooke and Emma Pooley both beat him to it), told The Independent that launching a women’s team would be “the next logical step for Team Sky.”
Wiggins has shown support for women’s cycling in the past – his Bradley Wiggins Foundation provides financial backing for Wiggle-Honda, the British-registered team that is home to Jo Rowsell, Elinor Barker, Laura Trott, Amy Trott and Dani King. However, he cautions against providing any future Sky women’s road race team with a budget comparable to that provided to the road team, saying that with other teams operating on far smaller budgets racing would become “a financial competition rather than an athletic one.”
Sky, Wiggins’ team, has faced criticism since it was launched for its apparent unwillingness to become involved in women’s road cycling. Now, as British female riders continue racking up victories, the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana introduce women’s races and the Women’s Tour of Britain looks set to be as popular as the men’s Tour, the team’s managers are going to have to get used to even more demands.
Vienne Futuroscope become Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope 86
The popular French team changed its name after the local government of the Poitou-Charentes region increased its financial backing of team sevenfold, from €10,000 to €70,000.
Local government in Britain showed remarkable enthusiasm for the Women’s Tour, the inaugural edition of which will take place in May. With many commercial companies reluctant to invest in a sport they fear might not offer sufficient returns and most governments around Europe and elsewhere keen on promoting cycling for environmental and public health reasons, this is a very interesting development.
Neutral Service Recommends: Sinead Burke’s CDNW Race 1 (Pimbo) report (GirlGoesRacing)
Second chance to see top women’s cyclists – with Harriet Owen video interview (Northamptonshire Telegraph)
Big Interview: Emma Pooley (Cycling Weekly)
Van Vleuten wants to return to her old level (In Dutch; Cyclingonline.nl)
Women’s Bicycle Forum kicks off with inspiring speakers (BikePortland)
One big way “Women Bike” is changing the face of advocacy (BikePortland)
The revolution will be televised (Cycling Weekly)
Rutland Cycling wins national prize for women’s activities (Rutland & Stamford Mercury)
Koppenbergcross introduces prize equality – hurrah for Twenty20 Cycling!
Up until recently, Koppenbergcross – the greatest ‘cross race after the World Championships, many claim – offered €1667 to the winner of the Elite Men’s race. Not a huge sum by today’s standards, but one that looked rather like a fortune when compared to what the winner of the Elite Women’s race took home: a paltry €350, which she could have earned had she have put in a full week and done a spot of overtime in a hamburger bar (which, because prizes are so low and salaries – when the exist at all – are usually no better, some of them do).
It wasn’t the organisers’ fault – Koppenbergcross has long been keen to promote its women’s race and has worked hard to make it a success, which has been much appreciated by the riders. The trouble was that sponsors tend to be a little conservative, and have thus been reluctant to invest significant money in a sport they fear can’t deliver the returns it promises.
Thankfully, that’s changing. There are a few companies out there who believe doing the right thing is as important as making profit, and they’re willing to put in the cash and see what happens. One of them is US-based Twenty20 Cycling which, despite being a relatively small outfit (it consists of two bike shops in Maryland, has put up the funds to equalise the total prize pots for the men and the women – a difference of €5000.
We, the fans, know that women’s cycling can deliver benefits for sponsors that are equal to anything men’s cycling can offer. Not all of us can show our appreciation by shopping in Twenty20’s stores, but we can all help spread awareness of how great they are by singing their praises at every opportunity we can make them the best-known bike shops in the USA. They deserve it, and by showing our support for them we can encourage more companies to follow suit so that the riders don’t have to flip burgers and can concentrate on their riding, making women’s cycling better for everyone.
Maureen Bruno Roy thrives in tough conditions (Boston Globe)
Cyclo cross racing finally catching fire in the US (Daily Republic)
Brit women win loads, Brit men don’t
Laura Trott takes omnium silver and Becky James wins Keirin bronze (The Independent)
Jo Rowsell clinches gold in Individual Pursuit (The Guardian)
GB Women win Team Pursuit gold (BBC Sport)